Multiple states have seen a concerning rise in calls of people improperly using disinfectants after Trump's comments. He said Monday he takes no responsibility.
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump said he takes no responsibility for a jump in calls to poison control centers concerning the misuse of disinfectants after he wondered aloud last week about possibly injecting them as a treatment for coronavirus.
When asked Monday about reports of an increase in people misusing disinfectants, Trump answered: "I can't imagine why."
When pressed about whether he takes any responsibility, Trump said, "No, I don't."
Maryland was one state that issued a warning against dangerous disinfectant use, with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency tweeting the agency had received "several calls."
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"This is a reminder that under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route," the tweet said.
Maryland's Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican and chairman of the National Governors Association, said on ABC News' "This Week" that from the beginning of the outbreak, it's been important that officials communicate "very clearly on the facts because people listen to these press conferences."
"They listen when the governor holds a press conference, and they certainly pay attention when the President of the United States is standing there giving a press conference about something as serious as this worldwide pandemic," Hogan said. "And I think when misinformation comes out or you just say something that pops in your head, it does send a wrong message."
Also on "This Week," Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, also expressed concern.
“When the person with the most powerful position on the planet is encouraging people to think about disinfectants, whether it was serious or not, people listen,” Whitmer said. “And so we have seen an increase in numbers of people calling poison control, and so I think it’s really important that every one of us with a platform disseminate medically accurate information.”
Saturday in Illinois, Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, citing a rise in calls to poison control centers over last year, specified two recent examples of cleaning agents being misused: "the use of a detergent solution for a sinus rinse and gargling with a bleach and mouthwash mixture in an attempt to kill coronavirus."
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On the day following Trump's speculation about disinfectants, New York City said its poison control center received a higher-than-usual number of calls "specifically about exposure to Lysol, 10 cases specifically about bleach and 11 cases about exposures to other household cleaners."
Trump's comments came after Bill Bryan, an undersecretary of science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security, had been discussing a new federal study that touted sunlight and household disinfectants as being effective in killing the novel coronavirus on surfaces or in the air.
"And then I saw the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in one minute, and is there a way we could do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning," Trump said during a White House news briefing.
Along with some states that issued warnings, Lysol also warned people not to inject or ingest its products as a coronavirus treatment, issuing a statement on its website Friday titled "Improper Use of Disinfectants."
Additionally, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued a reminder about consuming disinfectants, and tweeted, “Household cleaners and disinfectants can cause health problems when not used properly. Follow the instructions on the product label to ensure safe and effective use. Learn more about cleaning and disinfecting your home.”
On Friday, Trump told reporters he was "asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen."
Contributing: William Cummings, Dalvin Brown, Ryan W. Miller and Joel Shannon USA TODAY.
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